Women’s World Cup final: USA claim fourth title in win 2-0 over Netherlands
Wexford native Michelle O’Neill acted as the assistant referee for the fixture in Lyon
USA players and coaching staff celebrate winning the Women’s World Cup at the final whistle. Photograph: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters
The United States have claimed their fourth and record-setting FIFA Women’s World Cup title with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in Lyon.
US co-captain Megan Rapinoe scored from the penalty in the 61st minute. Rose Lavelle added the second in the 69th minute.
Wexford’s Michelle O’Neill acted as the assistant referee in the fixture.
Earlier, forward Lieke Martens was named in the starting lineup for the Netherlands in their women’s World Cup final on Sunday against holders the United States, who recalled winger Megan Rapinoe into the first team after she sat out the semi-final.
Rapinoe, who scored five goals in helping the US to reach their fifth World Cup final, missed the 2-1 win over England because of a slight hamstring strain.
The 34-year-old takes the place of Christen Press who scored the opening goal in the semi-final. Midfielder Rose Lavelle also starts despite fears over a knock she received in the same match. Samantha Mewis starts alongside her in place of Lindsey Horan who is dropped to the bench.
Martens, the 2017 world player of the year, aggravated a toe injury celebrating her late penalty winner against Japan in the last 16 and has been in and out of training since.
However, she made the cut to feature in the European champions’ first ever World Cup final, supporting all-time Dutch goalscorer Vivianne Miedema up front.
Fans who had travelled from the United States and Netherland filled Lyon ahead of kick-off at 4pm Irish time.
There were Americans on scooters, Americans in cafes, Americans in bars, Americans draped in flags and George Washington wigs, Americans in starred bandanas and cowboy hats, all red, white and blue.
The Stars and Stripes fans oozed confidence as the final approache. Outside a bar called Le Diskret, where the American Outlaws, a semi-official fan club, had set up camp, three fans laughed when asked what would happen in the final.
“Win,” Elizabeth Jones, 28, said without hesitating. “Oh, USA,” her friend, Chelsey Burrows said, “definitely. “With all due respect,” she added, smiling.
The 30-year-old Burrows said it would not be a walk in the park for the Americans to collect a record-extending fourth title.
“All it takes is the US to have a bad game and the Netherlands to have a really good game, and they come away with it. You got to prove it when it comes time to play.”
It is an admission few Americans are willing to make. Nearby, two fans debated whether they would prefer a rout like the 13-0 group win over Thailand or a cool 2-0 victory against the Dutch squad.
“I kinda want a blow out – I want them all to get a goal, I want [defender] Becky Sauerbrunn to score,” said Melinda Qiao, a fan from Cleveland, Ohio.
“I think the Americans are clearly better,” Trevor Frazier ( 21) said. “Our players individually are so much better.
“It’s just a question of is the Netherlands’ play style going to throw us off our game.”
The Dutch fans, bedecked as always in orange, packed into Place Bellecour, basking in the bright sunshine before packing into trams and joining long queues for shuttle buses to the out-of-town, 59,000-capacity Groupama Stadium.
The last World Cup, four years ago in Canada, drew unprecedented crowds and television ratings but this time TV viewership figures have exceeded all expectations, smashing records in multiple countries.
If the crowds of fans who have made their way to Lyon are any indication, the showdown on Sunday will break records, too, regardless of who takes home the trophy. – Reuters